Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Capital has acquired a stake in Itsalat International (i2), theMiddle East’s largest mobile phone distributor, for AED 150 million ($40.9 million). I2’s core market is the GCC but the firm is expanding in North & Central Africa. ‘The region’s rapid growth in the number of cellular subscribers combined with its expanding appetite for communications and rising per capita income provide an exciting context for Gulf Capital’s investment in i2,’ says Gulf Capital’s chief executive officer Karim el-Solh. It is the private equity firm’s first investment since the Economy & Commerce Ministry granted approval for its formation, capitalised at AED 500 million ($136.2 million), in late 2005. The company’s focus is on pre-initial public offering (IPO) business across the GCC (MEED 14:10:05).